Business Insurance In The Post-COVID Era
Even as the rate of new coronavirus infections in the US continues to rise, most states have already eased lockdown restrictions and are even allowing non-essential small businesses to resume normal operations. While this may sound like great news for small business owners, it is putting a lot of them in a huge dilemma: on one hand, many of them have seen significant revenue reductions over the past three months and are desperate to get back to work. On the other hand, many know that the virus is still far from contained and are afraid that it is too soon to reopen. Insurance has always acted as a safety net for businesses during tough times, and if you’re a small business owner who’s considering re-opening, you must reevaluate your insurance policies to ensure that your business is covered against any COVID-related risks and the health and safety of your workers are protected.
Business interruption coverage
Over the past four months, there has been a lot of conflict between businesses and insurance companies regarding whether or not businesses should be compensated over interruptions and closures arising out of COVID-19. The determination of what an “insured event” is has become more complicated in the case of COVID-19, and you need to reevaluate your policy to ensure that you’re still covered. First of all, a basic BI coverage will likely not cover you, as it only covers interruptions caused by a physical impact. An extended BI is ideal under the current circumstances, but you must ensure that it doesn’t contain “pandemic” exclusions in the terms and conditions, as this can disqualify your business from compensation.
Workers compensation insurance
The answer to the question of whether or not workers’ compensation covers COVID-19 is complicated. Under normal circumstances, workers’ compensation insurance doesn’t cover community-spread illnesses like the common cold since they usually cannot be tied directly to the workplace. But the pandemic presents a unique circumstance in which jobs that are not considered hazardous have suddenly become extremely dangerous for workers, and it is unclear whether existing policies include COVID-19. If you’re reopening your business and bringing back employees, you must find out from your insurer whether or not your existing policy will cover your employees against COVID-19, and if not, what you can do to ensure that they are covered.
Business liability coverage
Business liability has recently become the subject of a heated debate in Congress, with Republicans demanding liability protections to safeguard businesses from the “avalanche of lawsuits” that they could face if they re-open, while Democrats oppose the move, as it could protect businesses that are not taking adequate measures to keep their customers and guests safe. But, until a consensus is reached and a law is passed, one of the things you can do to protect your business from lawsuits when re-opening is to seek advice from a personal injury attorney on how steps you can take can prove that you did not breach the duty of care to your customers. For example, they can advise you to update your sanitization practices to current standards, perform temperature checks at entrances, change the office layout to ensure social distancing, and ensure everyone who comes in is wearing personal protective equipment. Such measures can help you prove that you’ve exercised a high duty of care in your business, absolving your business from liability claims.
The increasing hardship caused by the pandemic on businesses has further highlighted why a stable and developed insurance market is important. As you consider re-opening your business, determining what coverage is available and identifying which exclusions are applicable in each case can help you reduce exposures and survive even as the virus keeps spreading.